tv Newsmakers CSPAN January 13, 2013 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
mf coming up on c-span, "newsmakers" with hobby or becerra. followed by a discussion on president obama's nominee for defense secretary, chuck hagel. later, "q&a" with author jason brennan. >> our guest on c-span's "newsmakers" is hobby or becerra of california. josh is xavier becerra -- is xavier becerra of california. let me introduce our two reporters. ginger gibson of "politico." and mike lillis of "the hill." >> we are going to look at the fiscal cliff first. this egg, hard-fought battle over spending and cuts. you have plenty of experience in this arena.
the fiscal cliff comes along. you get a deal. you voted against it here and you were the only democrat to vote against it. why did you vote against it? >> there were several of us on the democratic side that voted against it. my sense is that if we are going to really move this country forward, we have to start dealing with the big challenges we face -- physically, socially -- now, not do these short-term fixes. a long-term fix would have included something that would have disposed of the so-called fiscal cliff. i believe this short-term deal creates three new fiscal cliff's, which is not the way you want to run -- whether it is a small business on main street or the largest economy in the world. we need to get to the point of dealing with the biggest deficit in the country, the jobs deficit. to me, this bill simply put a band-aid on the problem. it did do something the president wanted to do, committed to do. he delivered on the promise to
try to help protect the middle- class class. my theory is that in the next three political maneuvers that we are going to see coming up in congress, that people will start attacking the middle class. i believe this was our best opportunity to really take care long-term of the issues that we need to address to a balanced approach. >> to follow-up on that, you you voted early. you are not just waiting to see if it was going to pass and then vote no. the idea that obama kind of thatsome leverage theire, you wanted to see him fail, that he has to go back to the leverage -- that he does not have the leverage -- >> after the republicans walked away from the negotiations and tried the plan b by speaker boehner, it became clear, even after they tried to amend the senate yield that they could not do so dosh and the senate deal,
that could not do so. -- it became clear, even after they tried to amend the senate deal, that they could not do so. i could understand people voting for it because they wanted to get past the so-called fiscal cliff. a deal that increases the size of deficit does not provide a long-term solution. a deal that lets people who have income of about $450,000 be lumped in with people who are we the middle of america do-- have to face these tough decisions. i'm not interested in mounting the burden and solving these decisions on the middle class. i fear is we will see this gamesmanship again and again to what will be essentially three new opportunities for republicans to play mischief with our budget. >> you talk about wanting a grand bargain, a deal that looks at a bunch of these issues.
trying to avert the debt ceiling debate by invoking the 14th amendment, cementing dosh minting the trillion dollar coin -- do you think those are viable options, would you be opposed to them being used? , i don't believe anyone should hold the -- >> i don't believe anyone should hold the american people ransom for what they could not get done in the ballot box. paying for our debts in the past -- for things we did, we borrowed money. republicans and democrats alike past these budgets -- passed these budgets. in our publicans are saying they don't want to pay for the things they voted for -- now republicans are saying they don't want to pay for things they voted for in past budget. to allow them to put conditions on the balance deal by saying we are going to ask for a ransom, devastating cuts to social security and medicare, in order
to cover costs for things like the bush tax cuts, unpaid wars in iraq and afghanistan -- i agree with the president. the american people should not be held hostage with this game of using the debt ceiling as a way to try to extract what you could not get through the ballot ox. i would urge the president to move forward and continue to have the economy grow, let the government move forward, don't let this be a way that anyone in congress tries to manipulate the process. , you are leaving the options on the table -- >> you are leading the options on the table. you would not be opposed to the 14th amendment, minting the trillion dollar coin, whatever other options someone came up with. >> you cannot negotiate with hostage takers. i think the president must use one of the options before him, whichever is the least offensive. this stinks. this is not the way to run government. no small businessman in america would borrow money to keep the
business afloat then say later on to the bank, i'm not going to pay you money. he or she would not get any line of credit in the future. we have to pay our bills. what we do in the future is very important. that's why we are back to these long-term deals. holding the american taxpayer hostage is not the way to go. >> can i just clarify what you just said question mark you said the job -- what you just said? you said the deficit we should focus on is the jobs deficit. >> is our biggest deficit, the jobs deficit. if you get people back to work, they are carrying -- paying their fair share of taxes. the treasury is receiving revenue. if the treasury is renewing -- is receiving more revenue, the deficit shrinks. we can grow the economy. the best way to do that is to put american, middle-class workers back to work. to me, every time you talk about stifling the economy through these very aggressive
cuts to services and earned benefits, you are not helping the economy grow. the jobs deficit, to me, is the biggest deficit we face. but we have a lot of other challenges. social security medicare are among bashar not among the most immediate challenges. if you ash social security and medicare are not among the most immediate challenges. we have paid some $15 trillion in payroll tax to take care of social security benefits. how much have we actually used in benefits received by all americans? $14 trillion. we have a one dollar trillion -- $1 trillion in cash. all the trillions of dollars we have paid towards this have earned interest to tehe tune of
about $1.5 trillion. $2.5 trillion in unused surplus. why should we cover the cost of tax cuts for the wealthy? >> those monies have been tapped for other priorities. >> that is the real issue. the government, for other issues, has been using social security money, replacing them with bonds. the bonds are still good money. the treasury has taking dos taken the hard cash and used bonds -- the treasury has taken the hard cash and replace them with bonds. we are probably -- we don't have to pay china, japan, and every other lender that has given the us money. the reality is we are going to pay our bonds, whether to social security or china. that's why we have to be
fiscally responsible. >> just to follow-up, for most of the last year, you have said that social security has no business being in this -- in these debates, not the debt ceiling debate, not the fiscal debate. a couple of weeks ago, right after nancy pelosi came out and said that she would back something similar to what obama was backing, the chained cpi scenario for social security, which would have reduced payments for future beneficiaries -- we have been watching week by week. suddenly, you were not quite as vocal in your opposition to that. is that an indication you would support something like that in the grand bargain you are looking for? >> first, i have deeper spec for nancy pelosi, our leader in the house. she has -- deep respect for
nancy pelosi, our leader in the house. she has worked hard on issues like climate change. the entire issue of trying to get the in dash -- get the economy going -- she is trying to move us forward. in working with the president, she was trying to help us get to a long-term solution, which i have mentioned before. she said she would consider the chain cpi, a cut in benefits for seniors, for veterans, for a lot of people who receive earned benefits. social security has not contributed a dime to these deficits. we are trying to solve these fiscal issues because of our current deficit and our current debt. why should social security, which has not contributed one single penny to the current deficit and the current debt, have to be used to cover that? , because it might be the only way to get republicans on board for a big bargain. >> we know republicans are
interested in cutting social security and medicare. perhaps there are some who would say, if that's what it takes to reach a big deal, we will do that. i'm not yet convinced that simply because republicans want to cut social security and medicare, even though there is no justification for doing it, that we should do that. if you want to talk about strengthening social security into the future, to make it a program that will continue to run surpluses, i'm there. i'm willing to talk about just about anything. the same with medicare. but to the degree that you are using benefits that people have paid for to cover deficits caused by unpaid for wars in iraq and afghanistan, unpaid for tax cuts under the bush administration, then that's a problem for me as well. while i respect with the president and leader pelosi tried to accomplish, i am convinced i should be telling my parents -- i have to be convinced that i should be telling my parents that what
they have paid for will have to be cut because of the bush tax cuts for billionaires or unpaid for wars in the iraqi and afghanistan. >> you have led the way in congress. there has been a lot of discussion about the president's cabinet, the first hispanic labor secretary is going to resign. do you think there should be more diversity in the cabinet? would you like to see another hispanic for the role of labor secretary? are you concerned that it is becoming too many white guys around the president? >> throughout this country, you are seeing the ranks of our important leadership, both public sector and private sector, becoming very diverse, reflecting america. which i think is phenomenal. our diversity is our strength. president obama has tried to make sure the diversity is a hallmark of his administration. you are making decisions that
the public agrees with. i hope he continues to look for the most qualified people in america, whatever their gender, their ethnicity, simply because, if he gets the best, and he looks out for that diversity, we are going to have a talented group of people serving. i think the people that he has so far named to fill some of these posts that have been vacated are extremely talented. chuck hagel, as far as i know, is not minority or female, but he is extremely qualified. a vietnam vet, a warrior, a patriot, someone who is no nonsense. i think he is a proven leader and do a great job. you don't have to be a minority or a female to be able to serve in the cabinet and do well. i think everyone should have an opportunity. i think the president is going to make sure he gets talented folks from every walk of life. >> to follow-up on that, there has been a lot of criticism
about hegel's nomination -- hagel's nomination. do you think they should go ahead and back his nomination in the senate? >> the senate's role is to advise and consent. it is not to complain and filibuster. every one of the president's nominees should go through thorough vetting in a hearing and have an up or down vote. unless there is something that disqualifies him or her, we could -- should give the president's nomination an up or down vote. if that person cannot get at least 51 senators to vote for him or her, then that person should not serve in the cabinet . but that person should not be held hostage simply to try to get what you could not get through the ballot box it is time for us to move forward. this economy could be flying if
we were not constantly seeing congress get in the way, keep its foot on the brakes of economic recovery. giving its foot on the brakes of nominations -- keeping its foot on the brakes of nominations of talented people. president obama made a commitment to liver from the middle-class out. we have got to help him -- deliver from the middle class out. with the to help him do that. -- we've got to help him do that. the thought of fathers expected a body that would advise and consent, not complain and filibuster. this has not been an issue that history democrats well at the polls, and control. -- that has treated democrats
well as the polls, gun control. -- well at the polls, gun control. >> we should take it straight on. law-abiding gun owners do not like what happened in connecticut. did not like what happened in aurora, colorado. did not like what they see happening today. it is not just folks were as concerned as i am, living in a big city. we need to prevent that gun violence. we could take some sensible measures to do that, which gun owners support. members of the nra's support background checks to make sure that violent criminals to make sure the people who have severe mental disabilities are not getting their hands on guns and we do not know about. most americans support closing the gun show local, which allows people to purchase weapons without having to undergo a background check.
if you do sensible things, whether you or sportsmen who was always had guns in the house, or whether you are someone who is law-abiding and wants to protect yourself, you're going to support the sensible measures. it is time for us to stop the violence. if we have set a one child's life, we have done some good. -- saved one child poe's life, we have done some good. -- child's life, we have done some good. i do not think there is a gun owner in america who would say that an assault weapon has a place any other place and the battlefield. an assault weapon does not have a place in a school. an assault weapon does not have a place in a movie theater. an assault weapon does not have a place in a place of worship. most americans would say, it is time to make sure that assault weapons stay on the battlefield. >> to follow-up on that, you
talk about what american gun owners and the public wants. it seems the biggest hurdle could be the republican controlled house. how do you get anything through the house? have there been any discussions you have had with republican members who might be willing to allow you guys to get something done? >> if you take a sensible approach and use common-sense measures to try to address this, we can get bipartisan support. certainly the american people are way ahead of the politicians on this particular issue. republican and democrat alike, a gun owner and non gun owner, those who are in favor of public safety and prevention of gun violence, those who have been sportsman or own guns all their lives -- i think everyone agrees the we can find sensible measures we can all agree with, rather than bog down or try to stifle progress. let's go where we can agree.
but let's not be timid. let's mak let's make sure we can prevent someone who has a severe mental problem from going to school and taking away the life of over 26 people. i hope that we do proceed in a bipartisan fashion. >> one thing i often hear from gun advocates in talking about gun-control laws is that half the population owns a gun and a half has never touched one. have you ever fired a gun or owned one? >> i am not someone who believes that in order to have safety, i have to have a weapon. i understand why some americans believe it. to me, it is not an issue of depriving someone of a right to possess a weapon. to me, it is an issue of having sensible measures. to regulate the possession of
those weapons. once you have that weapon, it is tough to figure out what will happen with afterwards. if we make sure the law-abiding americans who have a sense of what it means to own a weapon are handling it in those legal and responsible ways, i think we will be fine. it is when we allow someone to go through these gun loopholes, to sell the weapon without ever having to check the person who is purchasing the weapon's background, that is when we run into problems. >> we have four minutes left. >> all the focus now is on these physical fights, that ceiling, sequestration. -- fiscal fights, debt ceiling, sequestration. obama wants to do energy reform.
that is a thorny issue on capitol hill. the partisan fights we have seen have defined congress for the past few years. this it is not a congress that walks and shoes gone well at the same time. -- and chews gum well at the same time. >> the average person juggles lots of different things every day. making sure the kids are paying their homework. -- doing their homework. paying the bills. they have no choice but to walk, chew gum, and juggle lots of things at the same time. congress is no different. members of congress are family people as well. if they can handle it family, they should be able to do the work in congress. it is time to fix a broken
immigration system. the president is ready. we should not face obstacles that are man-made. manufacturing these crises, fiscal crises every few months does not just create this political backlog. it is not just create animosity among the public. it also creates the inability for the economy to really take off. we need to get americans back to work. we put five and half million americans back to work in the last few years. we need to do more. every time congress gets in the way, it makes it difficult. the president said he is ready to work on all the stuff issues. immigration, preventing gun violence, the economy. but we need help from our republican colleagues.
>> if mom and dad have wildly different views on how those family priorities should progress, those families are also stalled. what is different about the dynamic this year that would make people want to work, especially with -- >> mom and dad to talk to the family and neighbors. -- should talk to the family and neighbors. americans are ready for the fix. they're ready for prevention measures to stop gun violence. they are ready for us to do the big deal on the economy so we do economy. >> public pressure will force congress to act? >> i hope so. it does become clear the some folks are just not listening to the public. i hope what the politicians learn from the election is that
the public is sending a message. i hope everyone in congress is listening. it is time to get things done. put aside the egos, hang them up with a coat, let's get things done. >> one minute left. >> we talk about what democrats want to see passed. >> we can deal with these fiscal issues a bipartisan, balanced way. you cannot just do it with one side doing the listening. i believe we can come up with a balanced approach. the president has been trying for two years. speaker boehner walked away from the deal. i suspect we will have a chance to see a big deal surfaced again. i hope this time, republicans are willing to take it. >> mr. becerra, thanks very much.
we're back with ginger gibson of "political." and mike lillis of "the hill." the democrats have picked up eight seats in the congress. the white house wants to have both houses under democratic control for its last two years of obama presidency where is the incentive for the two parties to get along co? >> i do not see much of one. republicans are going to try to go back to their district and say, i put up a good fight. democrats are going to back and say, there obstructionist. do not send them back. with those types of dynamics, it is set up to be just as disagreeable as the last congress. you heard the congressman said,
i think they're going to call for bipartisanship. it is what a bit tricky battle for both of them. >> agreed. everyone was having their kumbaya moment, talking a good game. then immediately they started fighting just like they had for the two years previous. the republicans lost eight seats. the people better here now are more conservative than they were before. you'll see the same gridlock we saw over the past it of yours. -- two years. everyone keeps asking, what can they get done? the better question is, what do they have to get done. that is what they will get done. i do not think it will give anything done more than that. -- they will get anything more
than that done. >> what does this mean for the economy? his message was that all this puts the economy and hold. >> they keep mentioning uncertainty. if your business owner and what the government to get something done on a long-term basis, i would not look forward to anything like that. the senate has passed a five- year farm bill. they cannot even agree on that in the house. there is a lot of long-term things of a pass the senate. -- that have passed the senate. >> the grand deal for the fiscal cliff was struck by the senate republican leader and vice- president. mr. baker had defeat with this iswithin his own conference. -- boehner had defeat within his
own conference. >> john boehner has a very difficult position going forward. he has to be able to broker agreements between himself and democrats and within his own caucus. we saw plan b. die. the idea of amending the deal that had been struck in the senate. very unhappy conservatives. the run-up to that vote. he has got a dynamic within his own caucus where they do not want to see taxes. they want to see more cuts. governing the house of representatives is proving to be a difficult and complicated task for him in order to get anything out of his own caucus. >> the last question on the ways
and means. there are republicans who want big tax reforms this year. mr. becerra mentioned he was not happy with the $450,000 threshold. where do you see the tax break going this year? >> may be nowhere. $450,000 is not middle-class in most people's minds. they're going to have a tough fight. regular order has not been it would have done things anyway. regular order, -- is not the way that they have done things and do it. but it has taken to get anything done is these deadlines. -- what it has taken to get anything done is these headlines. headlines.